This year’s popular Breakfast with Santa held at the Lincoln Cultural Center was very different from what it’s been like in years past. Seating was very limited and by reservation only. Masks were required to be worn by all. Seating was socially distanced, and children were brought up to visit with the man in the red suit in family groups. Vale resident, Wally McSwain stepped up to the role of the man in the red suit. 

“I’ve always thought that once I retired, I might like to be Santa,” said McSwain who has the obligatory white hair and beard. “The children are so excited to see him and I had a good time doing it.”

Normally, hundreds of children and their families attend the event, but that simply wasn’t possible this year due to COVID restrictions.

“We wanted to be able to offer something,” Cathy Davis, the Lincoln Cultural Center director said. “We both wanted to do it because children enjoy it so and to honor Jim (Helms).”

Helms, who has been Santa for the cultural center and the City of Lincolnton for the past few years passed away in November from complications associated with COVID.

Children were not allowed to sit on Santa’s lap this year. Staff at the cultural center decorated the stage in the Timken Performance Center and Santa held court there. Parents could take pictures with their children sitting on the steps in front of Santa. Members of the cast of the Lincoln County youth ballet, the “Nutcracker,” this year’s Lincoln County Apple Queen and her court and the Grinch visited with children throughout the morning.

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